Prostate Cancer: Making a Treatment Plan
Being told that you have cancer can be scary. But most men who have prostate cancer do not die from it. A cure is not guaranteed, but treatment can often keep the cancer under control. Your health care team will advise a plan of treatment. This plan depends on many factors. These include your age and your general health. They include how fast the cancer is growing and if it has spread. Talk with your health care team about your options.
Your Health Care Team
Many professionals will assist you in your care. They include:
A urologist. This is a doctor who treats and performs surgery on the urinary system and the male reproductive system.
A radiation oncologist. This is a doctor who treats cancer with radiation.
A medical oncologist. This is a doctor who treats cancer with medication.
A nurse practitioner. This is a person who may perform exams and manage follow-up care.
Your primary care doctor. This person refers you to the right specialists. He or she also watches your general health and coordinates the care given by all the specialists.
Choosing the Best Treatment
Your treatment plan is based on the grade and stage of the cancer. Your health care team will talk with you about your options and find what is best for you. Your options may include:
Watchful waiting (active surveillance). You may not need treatment at this time. This depends on the grade and stage of the cancer. It also depends on your age and general health. Your health care team will watch your health. They will decide when you will need follow-up exams or biopsies. They will then schedule treatment at a later date if needed.
Treating to cure. If the cancer is detected at an early stage, the chance of full recovery is good. Low-stage cancer or mid-stage cancer can be cured by removing it with surgery. Or it can be destroyed with radiation.
Treating to control. High-grade cancer or late-stage cancer often can’t be cured. But it may be controlled to slow down the growth and to provide a reasonable quality of life (palliative care). Methods for control include surgery, radiation, hormone therapy, and chemotherapy.
New Treatment Options
New treatments for prostate cancer may be available in the future. These may include new types of surgery. They may include radiation techniques or new medications. Your health care team can tell you if any of these might be right for you. Ask the members of your team if you qualify to be treated as part of a clinical trial. A clinical trial uses research to study new treatments or therapies.